Amanda's Springy Thingy Reviews

Inspired by everyone who uses fun rubrics for their reviews, I’ll be posting my impressions and then telling you what kind of bird this game is.

I’ll start with the full-length parser games, then the full-length choice games. We’ll see if I get to the smaller ones.

Without further delay…

The Familiar by @groggydog

This was just a delightful game to start the comp with. It plays smoothly, is action-packed, and has a really endearing protagonist with a quest I felt invested in. The writing was engaging, which is good because it’s a text-heavy, story-heavy game (something I am always a fan of), but there’s plenty of interactivity to balance it out.

You’re a crow, a witch’s familiar and new on the job when disaster strikes your witch. You have to go on a classic stepwise fetch quest to help her, and you meet lots of well-realized NPCs along the way-- including other familiars, and a mortal foe. The puzzles are quite easy and well-clued, making this game a no-brainer for anyone who wants to try out a parser puzzler. Additionally, the verb set is limited; you can do the things you should be able, as a bird, to do, like CAW and PECK. There’s no futzing around with PUT X IN Y or GIVE THING TO PERSON-- DROP is all you need if you’ve got the right thing in the right location. So it’s an extremely friendly parser, which was most welcome.

I also just loved the art; it’s some of the better Adventuron-style pixelated art I’ve seen, and definitely adds to the game. There was sound, but I turned it off like I always do because I don’t like sound in my games (edit: oops, no sound. That’s the other game I started. Pardon.)

I always have one nitpick with Adventuron games, which is that when the game doesn’t recognize an object you type, its response is “You notice nothing special.” So if the author missed implementing a synonym, then you might think the object isn’t important. That’s not the author’s fault, because it’s just impossible to anticipate every synonym a player might try, but rather a weakness of the program. In any case, as with all Adventuron games, if something appears to be important, don’t shorten its name (eg PACK for BACKPACK) when you examine it.

I played this game and went outside to think about it, and there was a crow cawing in my big oak tree! So this game perfectly harmonized with my day. I recommend it for everyone, but I especially recommend it for beginners. My play time was about 45-60 minutes.

What bird is it? Well, duh. It’s obviously a sassy black crow.


This is such a gracious review, and it absolutely makes my day that it resonated with you.

I think it’s worth pointing out that there’s some freedom with changing the error messages with Adventuron, and I was able to code in quite a few unique error message for unknown verbs/nouns, and for "PECK"ing failures. So I don’t want to put all of that on the engine - I could have done a better job customizing it to my tastes.

Still, this is a very special review for me and I appreciate it a lot.


I should have mentioned in my review that I also loved the shout-out to the classic Aesop fable The Crow & the Pitcher. Nice.

It was funny that I had already decided to compare games to birds, and my very first game was about a bird, making my first comparison easy!


Playing Galaxy Jones now and I could use a hint. @rileypb ?

I have the polymer gel and access to the ledge out the window.
I tried:
Climbing the cable, attaching the cable I have to the cable, attaching the cable to the wall.
Putting the gel on the cable (it might be a power line? The gel is conductive.)
Putting the polymer gel in the control panel downstairs.
Hammering things into the wall to climb on them.
Using everything I have to fish the screwdriver out from behind the cabinet.

I think my only options right now are to focus on getting the screwdriver or climb up from the ledge. I just can’t figure out what the gel can do for me.

Am I missing something? Can I get a hint?


Galaxy Jones is afraid of heights but she’s vowed to conquer it, as she said as she stepped out the window onto the ledge. How might she conquer her fear of heights?


Also, you do need the screwdriver. where do you stand on that?


I tested the game untill the offices. I get the gel and stop going on further but I am interested in keep playing becouse this is a great awesome parser game.


Hey, Amanda. I love the title of this thread!

You can have synonyms for verbs and nouns in Adventuron. If PACK is not understood as a synonym for BACKPACK, then it’s just one that the author didn’t think of.


I was objecting to the standard error message, which I think is really misleading. We all know that all authors sometimes miss implementing sensible synonyms, like PACK. But that standard “You notice nothing special" message really peeves me. The author did take responsibility for this in his reply to me, though, so I stand corrected.

Aha! Thanks. Got it now.

Here’s my inventory:

a bottle of Electrofil quick-setting conductive polymer gel
a cable with hooks at either end
a garish medal
a black cardkey
a full water bottle
a hammer
a drop key
a safety pin
a red cardkey
an Atmo-Suit (being worn)
a fork
a shrimp tea sandwich
a black jumpsuit (being worn)
a disruptor pistol

I tried fishing it out with the cable and the fork and a few other less sensible things. I tried destroying the cabinet a few ways. I tried hooking the cable to the cabinet to see if I could pull it over, and opening the cabinet to empty it. No dice on any of that. Is any of that in the right ballpark?


You don’t own a cat do you?


No. I don’t really know any cats. Let me think on that hint, though.


Well… I’m a cool&hip Jazz Cat sometimes waving my Jazz Hands around. Does that count? Even if it’s only through writing on this forum?



umm, spoiler alert


OK, I’ve solved it. But I have to detail what happened here, because it is a prime example of parser game brainfart.

The screwdriver got knocked behind the cabinet, and this flipped the switch in my brain that says PUZZLE. So I’m immediately spending a hundred moves trying more and more outlandish things, trying to build fishing rods with my inventory, etc. Do you know what I did not try?

You are facepalming at me now, because you guessed it. The ONE thing I did not try, because this is not how a puzzle is solved, is GET SCREWDRIVER.

Yes, being this dumb does hurt.


Poor Amanda, I got the tool back without effort and remember that I tried first moving the cabinet.


You could also have tried LOOK BEHIND CABINET, which I thought was obvious, but players always find a way to stymie my expectations! :wink:


Galaxy Jones by @rileypb

This is a true old-fashioned puzzly text adventure. You’re a badass warrior grrrl on Mars tasked with rescuing a celebrity who has been captured by your arch-nemesis. He in fact is the one that invites you to rescue her in hopes that he’ll destroy you when you storm his Martian compound. It’s a supremely silly set-up, but it works.

The puzzles are easy for the first half of the game, and then they get harder and less clued. I did get stuck at one place because of my own stupidity (see above posts), but there were a few places that required doing things that weren’t particularly sensible (eg: Why couldn’t I just pour the gel on the mauve robot from above? Well, you just can’t). Although this can be frustrating, it is well in line with the ethos of the traditional text adventure, so try things that seem silly.

I solved the final puzzle by accident-- I typed UP, meaning to try and get on the General’s flyer and hook my cable to it, but UP took me to the top of the cage instead, which was not something I had considered doing– but I probably would have gotten there on my own with some more tinkering.

The story is zippy and the writing works, but it’s all in service of the puzzles, which again is classic old-school stuff. There were some minor implementation problems: some blank responses to actions, some unimplemented scenery, some disambiguation issues. But they were minor irritants in an overall smooth experience. And I should add that this appears to be game 1 of a series; I think we can probably expect a Galaxy Jones 2 at some point. I played this in bursts, stopping when I got stuck, so it’s hard to say what my play time was. Maybe about 2 hours of actual playing, and about 2-3 hours of thinking breaks?

I recommend it if you’re in the mood to wrestle with some parser puzzles. I think it manages to hit the sweet spot of increasing puzzle difficulty, and the puzzles are solvable if you think outside the box a little. Feel free to hit me up for a hint if you get stuck.

Edit: There are several fail states in this games, particularly once you reach the 10th floor, so you will need to save occasionally.

What bird is it? It’s a Peregrine falcon. Small but deadly, acrobatic and intelligent. Galaxy Jones may have been the underdog to the powerful General, but he underestimated her beak and talons.


Thanks for playing my game and for such nice words! Did you happen to note what blank responses you got, etc? Thought I had wiped them all out!


I played online, so I didn’t keep a transcript, which was very rude of me, as I like to get transcripts and I should know better. I’m going to amend my hypocritical ways.

I do remember getting a blank response for POUR GEL ON SOMETHING. Maybe the elevator floor? And I think there was one more, but I can’t remember it. They really were quite minor.


I Am Prey by @inventor200

This is Joey’s first game, and it’s been awesome to watch its progression on the forum. There’s a “Survival Guide” which you should definitely read before playing. I admit my eyes got a little wide on reading it, because it is long and there are many non-standard actions and rules and I thought I might be lost while playing. But the game starts off gently enough, allowing you some time to get used to its format.

I picked “Prey Tutorial Mode” to play in, and probably so should you unless you tweak immediately to all the special commands. The set-up is TOTALLY AWESOME, and I don’t want to say anything about it so you’ll come to it without preconceptions. But it’s a hell of a good sci-fi/horror raison d’être.

The game is all about exploring to find hidden objects. The map is large, and there’s a MAP command that shows you available exits. You’re running from a predator, hoping to find the objects before the predator finds you, and there are lots of ways you can give your location away, but also defensive actions you can take to escape if you are caught. The amount of coding under the hood keeping track of closed/open doors, and where you’ve been, must be staggering-- this is an extremely Designed game and I was floored by the amount of work it must have been to implement everything.

I know, because the author said so, that this game was not as well-tested as it should have been, but it plays really smoothly and I didn’t encounter any major problems, and only a handful of very minor ones. It feels about as well-implemented as the majority of well-tested games in Comps.

“I Am Prey” is obviously made for maximum replayability, which is something I don’t normally do, but I may very well pick this one up and try again after I get through more ST games. I got killed after a few tours through the huge complex and finding 3 objects (about 45-60 minutes of play), and I hadn’t explored any Parkour routes, or tried many of the defensive commands on offer. I really enjoyed making my map, zinging around the map looking for stuff, and the genuine pressure of feeling hunted while I roamed. But I definitely didn’t experience all this game has to offer on my first play through.

I recommend this highly-- it’s got the feel of a first-person video game while being a parser game, and that’s quite an achievement. If you like large maps, cat-and-mouse setups, and treasure hunting while under the gun, this game is absolutely for you. Great job, Joey!!!

What bird is it? It’s a shrike. Not a large or showy bird, but implacably violent and deadly as it impales its prey on the nearest sharp object and then sings over it.